Tuesday, December 7, 2010


   There's no sure-fire way to capture the beauty of Christmas lights in a photograph.  But, there are a few tips that might help.  Here are five things to try when photographing the lights come Christmas.

Take a lot of Pictures.  Often, the trick to getting a few beautiful shots is to take several attemps and to simply get rid of the weird ones.  Especially with using a digital camera, it's very reasonable to take a hundred shots so that you can get five pictures that you really like.  If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again.


Turn Off the Flash.  Sometimes capturing great shots of light in an otherwise dark area happens when you turn off the flash.  Having the flash on can overcompensate for the brightness of the picture and leave your photograph distorted.  If your pictures just aren't coming out right, try turning the flash off for a few shots and see if the results are any better.

Zoom In.  To get those stunning images that light right up off the page, you may want to try zooming in the camera.  Photographers are able to capture perfect micro shots from physically standing still but, with the camera, zooming way in.  That way, you can still position yourself where the lighting is best but capture precious details that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Try Your Motion Settings.  Depending on the great Christmas displays you're trying to photograph, there may be some motion involved that you have to overcome, i.e., lighted star with various twinkles, a lighted deer that rocks back and forth, and so on.  Many cameras have a motion or action setting to help you nab the perfect shot regardless that your subject is currently moving.  Experiment with the setting to see if it can't help with your photographic goals this winter.

Try Various Angles.  Another experimental aspect that may end up giving a great shot is just rotating the angles at which you approach your target.  Christmas lights will have various glares as you move around; trying to capture the same scene from different angles , with various heights, with various tilts of the camera.  Even the best photographers can luck into the right shot.

   Play around and see what works for you.  As long as you're happy with the results, you can chalk the experience up as a success.


Seal 2010

Seal 1931

Seal 1981

   It all began in 1907.

   In the early 20th century, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the U.S.  Physicians were experiencing the first signs of success treating tuberculosis in special hospitals called sanatoriums, and one of those facilities had fallen on tough times.  The tiny Delaware sanatorium would have to close its doors if $300 dollars could not be raised to save it.  One of its doctors explained the plight to his cousin, a Red Cross volunteer named Emily Bissell.  Bissell was a veteran fundraiser, and she soon came up with a plan based on one that had worked in Denmark: She would design and print special holiday seals and sell them at the post office for a penny each.

Seal 1907

Emily Bissell

Expanding Mission

  The tradition continued and grew year after year through World War I, The Great Depression and Word War II.  As the American Lung Association's mission expanded to include research-into other respiratory diseases, such as lung cancer, more people began to send Christmas Seals.  And as the American Lung Association stepped up to protect children and families from pollution and cigarette smoke in the 1960's, 70's, and 80's, America continued its support each year by supporting the Christmas Seals tradition.

Seal 1926


Seal 1953

Seal 1979

Seal 1961

A Bigger Battle.

   Today, the American Lung Association fights a bigger battle than ever before.  From important research on lung cancer and asthma to the fights against the dangerous poisons in air pollution and secondhand smoke, the American Lung Association's crucial mission is still largely supported by Christmas Seals.

Seal 1949

Seal 1918

Seal 1972

Seal 2004

   Each year, millions observe the tradition of sealing holiday cards and packages with that year's special seal.  And each year, your Christmas Seals donation supports the important fight against lung disease being waged every day by the American Lung Association.
   If you are interested in purchasing some Christmas seals or just want a look at all of the other Christmas seals, you can go to Christmas seals.org. They are not very expensive either, for a sheet or 56 they are $10 dollars.